Wednesday, 11 January 2017

More lions please, and fewer weasels.

What is leadership?  Doing what is populist or setting out what you believe in and working to persuade your electorate to your point of view?  Weasels do the first, Lions do the second.

Donald Trump is definitely a weasel, despite his claim to have a big swinging dick (or perhaps, to use his own words, bigly swinging). I conclude this because he comes across as someone either with no convictions, other than that he is great, or alternatively as someone so incoherent that he cannot adequately explain what they are.  No wonder he says he loves stupid people (what an accolade for the people who voted for him).

Turning to British politics, leaders of both Conservative and Labour parties are in the weasel camp as they seem unable to articulate a position of their own but are running after whatever they think will attract the popular vote.  I admire the SNP, or at least Nicola Sturgeon, for her relative honesty in maintaining her position on independence although built on a post-North Sea oil chimera.  As for UKIP their premise would appear to be populist.

Of course if your position does not accord with the electorate, then the strong ask why and deal with it.  This may mean revising your position but can equally mean standing by your principles and seeking to persuade, through facts and argument and not with scares and half-truths that seem to be meat and grist to many politicians. The weak change direction and run with the pack, the strong stand their ground and fight their corner.   Of the major parties, only the Liberal Democrats are showing true grit and leadership by sticking to their strongly europhile position despite everything, although  those moderate labour politicians who have chosen to fight the tide of populism in the Labour Party deserve credit too.

For our democracy to survive, people of principle need to be heard.  It doesn't not matter if  we agree or disagree, providing the debate moves from sound-bites and scaremongering to  rational debate. It is unfortunate that voices of principle or rationality are usually drowned out in the clamour of populism, amplified by sensation-seeking media.  In the process, people are being divided into self-sustaining camps of ignorance and bigotry.  In this war we need not only politicians but also journalists and commentators to provide leadership; to be lions and not weasels.

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